Saturday, March 6, 2010

You Got Your Guns in My Fantasy

I remember 1st Edition AD&D having short conversion notes on using Boot Hill and Gamma World Characters in AD&D. Back in the day it struck me as strange. Who would want to mix guns with their fantasy? It seemed unrealistic to me (in retrospect how can that be any more unrealistic then fantasy itself, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms).

Then we were introduced to the Quasi Deities of the World of Greyhawk. Muryland (guessing at the spelling there) was a Paladin with a six shooter. Obviously guns were around in EGG's campaign. Yet if I recall correctly gunpowder was inert in Oerth... no gun powder, no guns. (copout way to handle it if you ask me)

Not that I would want guns to be a part of my fantasy gaming. For me they never felt right for the genre, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work. I did try to integrate them into a campaign years ago... the players to a man preferred the firearms they weren't proficient in over their usual weapons. I ended that experiment shortly there after by removing usuably ammo from circulation.

See what happens when I watch a special about marksmen and trick shooters on the History Channel? Of course my favorite segment was hitting an arrow with an arrow (if it had split the original arrow it would have been even cooler).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Flame Off!

Alas, the yesterday's short Flaming Troll incident over at LotFP was extinguished by James last nite (early morning his time). It kept me up a bit later then I had intended, but a good show can do that.

Anyone can be quoted out of context and shoehorned into supporting whatever arguement one wants to make.

New School, Old School... It's all Rock and Roll to me ;)

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Years Ago...

Two years ago we lost a legend. I remember the day well. I was in my office, catching some posts of the Troll Lord Games Forums, and there was a thread that Gary Gygax has passed. I was floored. My eyes teared up. Not a pretty sight in a 40 year old hardened member of law enforcement.

2008 hasn't started out well at all. Mid January I was transferred from to a unit that was just starting up. An amazing conflict of personalities ensued.

On the last Thursday of the month, my ex (my son's mother) had a brain hemorrhage. She passed on the 3rd of February, never regaining consciousness from that Thursday. (Rest well Minnie)

My plan for that summer was to go to the Lake Geneva Con, and kindly accept and invitation Gary had extended to me (and I am sure many others), to roll some dice with him on his front porch. Alas, that was never to be.

Still, some good did come out of all these losses. My son and I are closer then we've ever been (he's counting the days until he's 17 and can take his road test for his driver's license). I got off my ass and started to actually game again, as opposed to just reading about it... thank God for Fantasy Grounds 2 and other VTTs... they are a great tool for the gaming single parent. I mean, if I couldn't game with Gary, the least I could do was game again.

This hobby of ours helped me realize a lot of the stress of 2008. Its a shame it took Gary's passing to make me realize just how important gaming and the friendships it helps start and old friendships it strengthens really is.

As long as people game, and long as they can bond across the dining room table, the Virtual table, any playing surface, the game lives on. I don't think Gary would really care which game it was, as long as you were playing with, or making new, friends,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


My god but today is a day of distractions. Lets see, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 arrived... looks damn purty even if it has nuthin' to do with RPGs (well, except maybe rocket propelled grenades).

I also had my latest (and last for now) delivery of board games. Dominion (really a card game it seems), Nuclear War (er, also a card game) and Descent. Holy crap but that comes in a big and heavy box.

All those goodies and RPGNow is running a GM's sale. I'm thinking about picking up some 1e Dungeon Classics. It's just that there is so much to look at...

Gamer ADD. It's an awful disease. It attacks the wallet and your free time ;)

Quick edit: I didn't realize White Haired Man Games was part of the sale. If you use Fantasy Grounds 2 for your Virtual Table Top of choice they made some real nice products... on sale they are even nicer.

Edit to the Edit: Goblinoid Games (publishers of Labyrinth Lord) have their products on sale. That's it. No more shopping for me tonight. Sale lasts to March 8th anyway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to Basic

So, I used to have my bedroom closet stacked with my gaming crap, floor to ceiling. It was never very orderly. When my son moved in full time, I gave him my bedroom. Shortly thereafter I moved everything out of the lower part of the closet to give him storage and basically pile the crap haphazardly into different closets and storage space... I wasn't paying attention to what went where, let alone what was what.

Tonight I started trying to go thru and organize my old rule books, magazines, modules and such. Lo and behold I find my copy of the D&D basic rulebook, 1st print Moldvay. Haven't seen it in years... heck, I never actually played it, as I started with AD&D. I picked up the boxed set at some general discount store back in the day. All the boxes for sale were beat to crap, but all were shrink wrapped and they were like $3 bucks a pop. Ah, memories.

Seems like my 1st edition, beat to hell, AD&D PH and DMG are still in the top of my son's closet. That will be for another day. Damn, and my old MERP stuff. Did get to flip thru my Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 1st Edition rulebook.

In any case, look like I'll be rereading Moldavy's Basic D&D tonight...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! Maybe...

Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! is billed as a beginners / introductory role playing game. How well does it accomplish its task?

Well, first things first: Ancient Odysseys - Treasure Awaits! can be played with or without a GM (referred to as a Director in the rules). Having read thru (yet to play) the game rules, I would say that it probably works okay without a GM, but if a group were to play more then once or twice a GM would be needed to add depth to the roleplaying experience.

Task resolution is resolved using a single d6 and adding and subtracting the appropriate modifiers.

The system is simple, as it should be for an introductory game. There are just three classes (Vocations): Warrior, Rogue and Wizard and four character races (gnome isn't one of them, so you can work that out on your own).

Character generation is simplified in that you roll randomly for one of 6 sets of predetermined ability stats based upon your class. So, random and not... kinda. Characters have 3 stats, ranging from a score of 1 to 5. Wizards will be higher ranked in Reasoning, Rogues will excel in Awareness, and Warriors will be the ones with the highest Fitness.

Choose four skills (Pursuits) for you character, roll for some armor, choose a weapon package, if a Wizard choose your spells and lastly pick your other gear (torch, rope, satchel or grimoire). They say you can be up and running in about 10 minutes... I suspect you can prepare a character in less.

Spells descriptions remind me a bit of OD&D. Short, simple and to the point.

So, overall the rules look workable. They are composed of three books: Basic Play is what is says it is, the game rules. The second book is The Dungeon. Here we find the introductory adventure, suitable for solo, group, or group with GM play. The third book, Further Adventures, give the GM information on running a game, some monster stats and a nice amount of simple but random tables too flesh out one's own dungeon designs.

The author states at the end of the book three that he was aiming for simplicity for beginners and nostalgia for veteran gamers. I definitely feel he found a decent introductory system for new players (but it would definitely work much better with an experience GM at the helm, but then, so do all RPGs. Does it hit the nostalgia mark? Maybe if RPGs weren't so rooted in wargames... there is a lot of abstractness in the system... you are either front line or in the back of the marking order for example. The Conflict Action Map has the positions of closest, farthest, sneaking or behind. You won't be measuring squares or flanking opponents. You will get to kill things and take their stuff - success is based upon killing things and taking their stuff. Wait, I guess that does make it a RPG that hearkens back to the early days of role playing ;)

I'm going to give Ancient Odysseys a 4 beer steins out a 5. Nice introductory RPG but long term re-playability may be lacking. AS for DX-ability, 5 steins out a 5. I've really enjoyed reading this on my DX in bed at night.

Oh, and it also includes a PDF suitable for printing in digest size, if you are into digest sized books in your collection ;)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Theives Can... or Cant

Thieves' Cant. It was one of two secret languages mentioned in the 1st Edition AD&D Player's Handbook. Dragon Magazine, somewhere in the late issue 60's or early 70's even published a dictionary of the Thieves Cant suitable for removing from your Dragon Mag, folding along the lines, and having a pocket reference of sorts. But really, what is Thieves Cant? Another language? A dialect of Common? Choice coded words? Probably more of the later then anything else.

I came across A Hairbag's Guide to Cop Speak for the NYPD today, and it is pretty much Thieves Cant for cops, localized. That is the way I expect Thieves Cant would work in game... a local coded speak for the Thieves Guild.

Below is the Hairbag's Guide to Cop Speak for the NYPD, added to and edited by me to add omissions as I recall them (it is the lingo of my job). It is extremely regional... Police Departments neighborng NYC may use some of the same terms and may use different terms... as I said, it is extremely localized:

Adult Beverages: Alcohol

Back in the bag: An officer who is demoted from a plainclothes to uniform detail

Bag OF Shit: A miserable, no-chance-of-being-solved case

Boss: General term for any police supervisor

Bus: Ambulance

Bracelets: Handcuffs

Choir practice: A drinking party

Cocktails: Manhattan detectives are fond of this term for getting drinks

Dee Wee: Driving While Intoxicated

DOA: dead person (literally, dead on arrival)

EDP: crazy person (literally, emotionally disturbed person)

The Farm: Rehab

Flopped: Bounced out of a detail

Fly: to move from one command or detail to another

Gentleman: What cops call a stand-up boss. Top commanders, however,
sometimes think this means the boss is a pushover who doles out too much OT

Hairbag: An old-timer who thinks he knows everything

Highway Therapy: Transfer against will to a command furthest from one's residence. An “Unofficial Punishement”
The House: Stationhouse

Housemouse: A cop who is afraid to leave the station house and go on patrol; a sissy

It is what it is: A euphemism for a screw-up with political overtones

In the wind: At large, said of a suspect

The Job: Working at the NYPD

Job: A radio run or assignment

Loo: Friendly term for a lieutenant

Mope: Criminal

One Way / One Way Street: Cop out only for themselves

Perp: Perpetrator of a crime

On a Personal: Bathroom Break

Puzzle Palace: A derogatory term for NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan

Rat Squad: Internal Affairs Bureau

RMP: A squad car (literally, radio motor patrol)

Rumproaster: Vice squad term for a perv who rubs up against an unsuspecting person

Sarge: Sergeant

Skel: Criminal

Snitch: Informant

The Squad: Beat cop’s term for a precinct detective squad

The job is on the level: Sarcastic phrase meaning the job is unfair

Tool: Asshole

Tune Up: To beat someone up

Wood shampoo / Bronx Party Hat: To beat an unruly suspect about the head with a baton

Think how this would work in a D&D Campaign:

"Man the Loo is a tool. He's all bent that I gave a skel a wood shampoo. What did he expect, the guy was an EDP. He's even sicked the Rat Squad on me!"

You don't need a lot of words or phrases to make your own Cant... a dozen or so choice ones will keep your players on their toes and you can add more as you find the need.

Carcassonne - The First Step to Assimilation?

I mentioned last week that I was picking up some Euro-Family games to replace the weekly Friday Nite Uno / Other Card Games my girlfriend and I play with my mother.  The ladies love the bonding and knitting talk, I get to cement the future family relationships.

The game plan, so to speak, was to break out one of the newly acquired games this past Friday nite, but Thursday's 21" of snow put a damper on that.  So, yesterday afternoon we pulled out Carcassone.  My girlfriend was excited about trying the new game ( and was only moderately disappointed it didn't use any "funky" dice ) and my mother was willing to humor us.

By the end of the first game all 3 of us were hooked.  It's a simple game with unexpected depth.  The pieces are high quality.  It plays fast.  You're never quite sure who is going to win until the end.

We played three games before we pulled ourselves away to watch a DVD.  My girlfriend is already talking about breaking the game out this afternoon, although Catan and Ticket to Ride are also tempting here.

Before you know it I'll have them playing Decent, then a game of White Box Swords & Wizardry ;)
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